How Bunions Affect Your Feet

If you have a bunion, contact our office in Hamilton, New Jersey, at 609-416-9046 or schedule an appointment online.

It’s hard to believe that bunions can cause so many problems. But these deformities in your feet can cause a wide range of issues, from pain while walking to difficulty finding shoes that fit. Without treatment, you can even develop more foot damage and balance problems.

 Here at Tola Foot & Ankle Center in Hamilton, New Jersey, Dr. Pamela C. Tola wants you to come in the moment you suspect you have a bunion. She offers pain-free solutions that can prevent your foot problems from worsening, so you can walk without pain and stay active.

Bunions don’t develop overnight

Anyone can get bunions, but women have a higher risk than men. It’s also more common to develop bunions as you get older. Even though bunions usually affect your big toe, they sometimes appear in your small toe too.

 When you have a bunion, you have a foot deformity forcing the bones of your big toe out of its normal position. This causes the top of your toe to turn towards the other toes, and the joint at the base of the toe moves outward. As your joint protrudes, you develop a visible bump on the side of your foot. 

Common causes of bunions

You can develop a bunion for a variety of reasons. Contrary to popular belief, wearing high-heeled shoes and footwear with narrow toes aren’t primary causes. But they can certainly exert the type of pressure that quickly worsens an existing bunion or hastens the development of a new bunion.

It’s possible to inherit a structural abnormality, which makes you prone to bunions, or maybe your foot didn’t develop properly. For example, if you have flat feet and overpronation, it can cause abnormal foot biomechanics and added pressure that contributes to bunions. 

It’s also possible to sustain a foot injury that affects the way you walk, causing a bunion to form. In many cases, having a weak ligament in the midfoot can allow your big toe to move out of position.

Regardless of the primary underlying cause, it takes bunions years of irregular foot movement and ongoing pressure to develop. That’s why aging increases your risk of this common foot condition. Without early treatment, your bunions can get worse over time, and the normal structure of the bone can even change permanently.

How bunions affect your feet

Each time you take a step, the affected joint at the base of your toe — the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint — flexes. This constant movement causes your bunion to grow progressively larger and more painful.

In time, your big toe can bend underneath or over your second toe, adding pressure that forces this toe out of alignment too. In severe cases, your second toe can start pushing against the third toe as a result.

Bunions can also cause: 

As you shift your weight from your painful big toe, you can also put added pressure on the ball of your foot. As a result, swelling and inflammation develop, leading to a condition called metatarsalgia. When you have metatarsalgia, you often feel as though you have a pebble in your shoe. Metatarsalgia also causes symptoms like an aching or sharp pain in the sole of your foot. 

How bunions impact your overall life

Bunions cause more than foot problems -- they affect your whole body. You use your big toe to maintain balance and for leverage when your foot pushes off the ground. The MTP joint also helps you bear weight and works to distribute the load evenly to prevent excessive pressure.

When a bunion damages your toe and joint, it significantly impacts your foot function. You not only experience structural changes that lead to problems, but pain can also interfere with your ability to walk and balance properly. In fact, having bunions increases your risk of falling.

At Tola Foot & Ankle Center, Dr. Tola offers customized treatments based on the severity of your deformity and pain. She always starts with conservative therapies first, like shoe inserts, weight loss, anti-inflammatory drugs, and ice to reduce inflammation. For severe bunions that don’t respond to these treatments, Dr. Tola might recommend bunion-correction surgery.  

If you have a bunion, contact our office in Hamilton, New Jersey, at 609-416-9046 or schedule an appointment online.

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